May 7th. – Instruction 7. The Annunciation.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
May 7th. – Instruction 7. The Annunciation.
“The angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name was Mary.” – St. Luke i. 26, 27.
Mary was with her holy spouse at Nazareth, expecting with a lively faith, a firm hope, and an ardent charity the coming of the Desired of nations. She humbly asked of her God the favor of serving her whom He would choose to be the Mother of the Messias. The honor of being herself the woman blessed among all others is the recompense of her humility. God calls one of the princes of His court and sends him to the earth. “An angel was sent by God.” With the Venerable Bede, we cannot but marvel at the admirable designs of Divine Wisdom in the redemption of the world. God wishes that the original fault should be repaired as it had been committed, in the same order, by the intervention of the same personages. The mystery of the Annunciation is, in a manner, the counterpart of the scene in the earthly paradise. We will consider to-day the fall in Eden, the reparation at Nazareth.
1. The fall in Eden. – While our first parents were in possession of that grace and innocence with which the Creator had endowed them, their days passed happily away in the terrestrial paradise. The fallen angel, jealous of their felicity, presented himself under the appearance of a serpent, “the most cunning of all the animals.” He addresses the woman, whom he judges the weaker and more easily deceived. “Why hath God commanded you that you should not eat of every tree of Paradise?” said the serpent. Let us mark it well; he begins by formally and sacrilegiously attacking the attributes of God – His wisdom, His power, His goodness, His truth.
And thus it is he always tempts men to sin and rebel against God. Why those commandments, why those prohibitions which interfere with fullest liberty? Why not satisfy desires, passions, appetites? Why deprive yourself of all that which the senses plead for? At first Eve hears the voice of conscience. She answers: “God hath commanded us that we should not eat lest, perhaps, we die.” A doubt begins to exist in her heart – “perhaps.” But God did not say “perhaps.” He said positively “you will die.”
Satan, the father of lies, continues: “You will not die. God knows that your eyes will be opened. You will have the knowledge of good and evil, as He has; you will recognize your greatness, your rights, your independence.” This is liberty. “You will be as gods; no one shall be superior to you.” This is equality. “No one will have the right to command you or forbid you. You will be equal to God in science; you will share with Him all His attributes.” This is fraternity. These are the three grand principles of all who have ever revolted against authority – from the tempter in the Garden of Eden to this very hour. Eve listened to the tempter with pleasure; his promises deceived her. She will be a goddess, Adam will be God! What honor, what glory! To attain to all this we have only to eat of a single fruit. God is forgotten. His prohibition is despised. Now, is not this the same method which the demon employs to-day? Put faith and obedience aside. Listen to science. Religion keeps you in darkness and in ignorance. Soon your eyes will be opened, and you will see things clearly. You will be set free from every disagreeable burden. Eve at length yields to the tempter; she eats the forbidden fruit. Her eyes are indeed opened. She desires to conceal herself, but all in vain. This is the sad history of the fall of our first parents and of our consequent ruin. Let us see now the wisdom of God in our reparation.
2. The reparation at Nazareth. – An angel, one of the heavenly court, is sent by God to Mary. Standing face to face with the humble Virgin, he salutes her with greatest respect: “Hail, full of grace!” The angel does not say to her that she will be like to God, as Satan falsely declared to Eve. He assures her, however, that the Lord is with her – in her mind and heart. Mary is troubled at this strange speech. Eve, on the contrary, was pleased at the lying words of Satan. The angel reassures her: “Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.” Then he tells her of the designs of God in her regard: “Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David, His father, and He shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (St. Luke i. 31-33). Mary is not deceived by the splendor of these promises as Eve was by the deceit that she would be like to God. That which troubles her most is the care to preserve her virginity. The heavenly ambassador must instruct her in this mystery. “How can this be done?” The angel answered: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee.” Mary at length consents and pronounces the divine fiat which has been the salvation of the human race. The consent of Eve to the suggestions of the demon has been their loss. Eve had wished to equal God. Mary humbly proclaims herself His servant. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word!” The holy Fathers compare this word to that which God Himself pronounced in creating light, “Be light made!” In the mouth of the Blessed Virgin this fiat has given to earth Him Whom St. John calls “the light of every man coming into this world.” All that we have lost through the disobedience of Eve has been restored to us by the humble submission of Mary expressed in this short word fiat. What powerful motives we have of gratitude toward Mary! Let us, therefore, repeat again and again the words of the angel on the day of annunciation, “Hail, Mary, full of grace!”
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
Of supporting Injuries, and who is proved to be truly patient.
[Disciple.] V. May Thy grace, O Lord, make that possible to me, which seems impossible to me by nature.
Thou knowest that I can bear but little, and that I am quickly cast down by a small adversity.
Let all exercises of tribulation become amiable and agreeable to me, for Thy name’s sake; for to suffer and to be afflicted for Thee is very healthful for my soul. – Thomas à Kempis – Imitation of Christ Bk III, Ch XIX pt V.
May Devotion: The Blessed Virgin Mary
Virtues to practice: Meekness, purity, the spirit of poverty
O holy Mary, my Mistress, into thy blessed trust and special keeping, into the bosom of thy tender mercy, this day, every day of my life and at the hour of my death, I commend my soul and body; to thee I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life, that through thy most holy intercession and thy merits, all my actions may be ordered and disposed according to thy will and that of thy divine Son. Amen (St. Aloysius Gonzaga)
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins and Mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful; O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
(For either of the above prayers: An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this prayer.)
The faithful who during the month of May take part in public exercises in honor of the B.V.M. may gain: An indulgence of 7 years on any day of the month; a plenary indulgence if they assist at the exercises on at least 10 days, and moreover, go to confession, receive Holy Communion, and pray for the Holy Father’s intentions.
Those who perform their devotions privately during the aforesaid month are granted: an indulgence of 5 years once on any day of the month; a plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if they perform these devotions every day during the month; but where public exercises are held, this indulgence is granted only to those who are lawfully hindered from taking part in the same. (Raccolta).
Gentle Star of Ocean. (Ave Maris Stella.)
Ave Maris Stella,
Dei Mater alma,
Atque semper Virgo,
Felix cœli porta.
Gentle Star of ocean!
Portal of the sky!
Ever Virgin Mother
Of the Lord most High!
Oh! by Gabriel’s Ave,
Utter’d long ago,
Eva’s name reversing,
‘Stablish peace below.
Break the captive’s fetters;
Light on blindness pour;
All our ills expelling,
Every bliss implore.
Show thyself a Mother;
Offer Him our sighs,
Who for us Incarnate
Did not thee despise.
Virgin of all virgins!
To thy shelter take us;
Gentlest of the gentle!
Chaste and gentle make us.
Still as on we journey,
Help our weak endeavor;
Till with thee and Jesus,
We rejoice for ever.
Through the highest heaven,
To the Almighty Three,
Father, Son, and Spirit,
One same glory be.
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